By Cruise Critic Staff
4.0 / 5.0
Cruise Critic Editor Rating: Dining

Food on AmaLea is generally tasty and well-prepared, with plenty of options for diners with all kinds of preferences or restrictions. Overall, we would describe it as good, although not gourmet. Often we'd be excited by a menu description, only to find the item not as delicious in actuality. Portions are European-sized, which mean you can have a full four-course meal nightly and not come away feeling stuffed. On most nights, at least one regional specialty from the area -- the Danube, in our case -- appeared.

Wines are complimentary and were usually regional; Rieslings and Gruner Veltliner appeared in Austria, for example. A red or white choice was served, or you could have both paired to different courses of the meal. If you didn't like the nightly selection served, you could ask for another varietal or choice. Pours were generous, keeping dinners rather jovial, no matter who you sat with.

Main Restaurant (Cello Deck): The ship's main dining room is a mix of tables with river views and those with high-walled booths. You can sit wherever you want at meals, although there are only a handful of tables for two. If you really want a table by yourself, it's possible, as a certain segment of cruisers will always be dining at the alternative Chef's Table.  

Breakfast and lunch in the Main Restaurant are a blend of buffet-style and waiter-service options. Warning: The buffet can feel cramped at peak hours, so it's often easiest to dine a little earlier or a little later than usual. Breakfast runs for two hours, with the buffet featuring items like scrambled eggs, bacon, sausage, hash browns, cold cuts and cheeses, yogurt and nuts, cereal and a made-to-order omelet station. A variety of juices and vitamin shots are available, as is sparkling wine. A table is piled high with pastries and jam, as well as a chafing dish of changing items such as poached eggs or chocolate chip pancakes. Diners can also order from a menu, which features oatmeal, waffles with berries and cream, and a selection of egg dishes. Coffee and tea can be ordered from waiters, as well.

Lunch hours vary, depending on the day's port stops. You'll find premade sandwiches, an assortment of bread, cold cuts and cheese, salad bar items, fruit and cake, as well as fare that's inspired by local dishes; in Vienna, Wiener schnitzel was the featured dish. You can always choose from the always-available lunch menu: minute steak sandwiches, chicken ciabatta sandwich with tomato and mozzarella or a breaded fish burger.

Dinner, which has one set two-hour chunk of seating that varies daily with the ship's port schedule, is entirely waiter-served. A chef's recommendation for each course is available every night, but passengers are free to order whatever they'd like from the full menu, which includes always-available options like grilled entrecote steak, salmon fillets or chicken breast with sides of Caesar salad, coleslaw and potato wedges (or delicious French fries on request). The rotating menu consists of four courses: appetizer, soup, main and dessert. A bread basket full of freshly baked carbs is always served, although with butter and a rotating spread. Standout menu items included single-hooked Bluefin Pacific tuna tartar with Georgia beet, tahini hummus, avocado and sepia ink; a white asparagus cream soup with chardonnay foam, Black Forest ham and croutons; medallions of Austrian Alps beef and venison, with a pinot blanc shallot chanterelle sauce; and asparagus risotto. Desserts were tasty, a cheese plate was always available and the chocolate buffet served at the Captain's Farewell dinner was Instagram-worthy.

Chef's Table (Violin Deck): Located in the rear of the ship, the Chef's Table is a tasting menu that gives passengers an alternative dining experience; everyone is guaranteed to get in once per cruise (and more often, depending on availability). The food here definitely seemed like a step up from the main dining room, although the meal does go slow; allow yourself plenty of time. The menu stays the same during the cruise, although AmaWaterways does rotate it seasonally so if you're a repeat passenger, it will likely be different. On our cruise, it consisted of a feta cheese panna cotta with matcha-dill sauce and cucumber; a scallop and tiger prawn appetizer with hummus and avocado; an Asian tom ka coconut soup with sea bream and chardonnay foam; braised beef cheek and short ribs with porcini sauce, pumpkin mash, potato-pumpkin gratin and asparagus; a nougat gateau with a green apple sorbet and almond chocolate pearl. A cheese cart finished the meal. The menu was adjusted for the vegetarians and vegans in our group. Wines served with the meal were Austrian (appropriate, given our locale) and more interesting than the main dining room selections, with a peppery Gruner Veltliner and a Wachau Valley Zweigelt.

Lounge and Coffee Bar (Violin Deck): Early and late risers come into the main lounge for pastries one hour before and one hour after the Main Restaurant hours. Self-serve tea, hot chocolate and specialty coffees can be had around the clock via the coffee bar located on the starboard side of Violin Deck at the entrance to the Lounge. Finger sandwiches, a soup, a choice of two entrees, desserts and cheese are available for those who don't want to go into the main dining room for lunch. The small bites return again in the late afternoon for tea time; cookies, including a gluten-free choice, are available at all times. Many nights, late-night snacks -- such as chicken fingers or local sausage -- are put out during the evening entertainment.

Room Service: Room service is only available in suites. The limited menu includes coffee, tea and continental breakfast. If you're not feeling well and staying in your cabin, however, the staff will bring you something.

AmaLea Information

AmaWaterways AmaLea Ship Stats

  • Crew: 51
  • Launched: 2018
  • Decks: 4
  • Passengers: 158
  • Registry: Switzerland

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